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Lip 'em
By Richard Zieger, Iowa

Publisher's Note:
Rick's season is just starting again, but we have a nice stash of articles he has written in the past as ideas or events occured to him. We hope this will explain apparent 'out of season' articles.

On this Saturday's outing I got to drive into a pond. It had not rained for a few days and the road was dry enough to get to the field. This is a pond that I had not been to this year. It is one that I have worked on for a few years to get into decent fishing shape. It is almost rectangular in shape. It is about 220 feet long and 70 feet wide with the deepest water being about 12 feet a little way out from the dam.

As I got to the pond I could see activity all over it. There were fish rising around the edge and fish rising in the center. The only thing that kept me from starting to cast immediately was the fact that there were about 10 feet of weeds around the edge of the pond. I was afraid that any fish I hooked would be caught up in the weeds.

I finally fumbled around and got everything ready to go. I still have trouble being patient when I can see that the fish are ready to go. I got the canoe to the edge and got out into the pond. Now the choice was which place to cast.

I grabbed the first rod, a 5 wt, that had a black peacock sword tail nymph on it (in the bluegill flies article). This fly was already on the line and it seemed like a good idea to use it. I was about 15 feet from the edge of the weeds and cast to a little depression in the weeds. The fly had barely hit the water when the line went sideways. I sat the hook and had a bass go ballistic. This fish was about 10 inches long and came out of the water six times. Needless to say, all the activity in that area was done.

I turned in the canoe and cast out into the pond to see what might be there. I let the fly drop for a few seconds and then started to slowly stip it about 2" and then pause. On the second strip I felt weight and tied into a chunky gill. This fish turned sideways and headed for the bottom. It took a few minutes but I got her up and into the canoe. I did notice that I had hooked her in the lip. I cast out again about 10 feet to the side and had a fish hit the fly immediately. This was another fish that headed for the bottom. When I got this fish up and tried to swing her into the canoe she dropped off. As I was swinging her up I knew I was in trouble because she was barely lip hooked.

I thought that I would be smart and adjust my hook set a little. I would wait a little longer and let the fish get the fly in a little deeper. I did this on the next cast and the result was no fish. In fact I did this five more times. It seems that the fish were spitting the fly out if I did not set the hook quickly. My next thought, brilliant because I did it, was to drop down a fly size. It turned out that this did not help. If I was slow to strike the fish had spit out the fly.

It was time to go back to the quick strike and at least hook the fish. I moved the canoe a little ways to get into fresh unfished water. I cast out again and let the fly drop for a few seconds. I was starting to retrieve the fly when I felt some resistance, so I sat the hook I was into another chunky gill. When I got this one up to the surface I could see that he was lightly hooked in the lip. I decided to try to net this fish. Great plan, but when the fish saw the net he flipped a little and the hook came out.

I finally decided, after a few more tries, that the net was not going to work. I also decided to put the anchor down and tie it off. I have found that by doing this, when the wind is not blowing, I can stand in the canoe and cast with the fly rod. I do have my life jacket on while I am doing this.

I cast toward the shore and tied into another bass. In fact almost every time I cast near the weeds I would hook a bass. I finally started casting a little farther out from the shore and got back into the gills. By standing in the canoe I could work the fish a little better. I managed to keep them under water until they were near the canoe. At this point I tried to bring them toward the canoe and swing them up in one smooth motion. This worked about 30% of the time. I had more fish drop off than I caught. The thing was that I was getting at least one strike on each cast. Even if I lost the fish there was another one out there.

As the sun started to get higher in the sky I noticed that I was having to let the fly drop a little longer to get to the fish. I also noticed that I was not getting as many strikes in the shallower water. I am trainable, in some things, so I moved out to where the deeper water was.

In this area by letting the fly drop for about 7 to 8 seconds and very slowly moving the fly along I would connect with fish. I did try other flies, but nothing worked like this fly. While fishing this fly a little deeper like this I did hook several crappie, but only got three of them into the canoe. I also caught three bass that were over 16" long while fishing over this deeper water.

It was a very good day, even if several of the fish got off. It is nice to know that the fish population is healthy in this pond and should continue to have good fishing for a long time. I did catch 5 gills that were from 11.5 to 12 inches long. All of them are still swimming in the pond.

I did end up with 42 gills and three crappie in the canoe. I was able to share some fillets with folks and have some good eating ourselves.

I hope you can get out on the water. ~ Rick Zieger

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